Giving Marriage A Break
Isn’t it amazing how marriage polarizes people?
Next time you get together with friends and acquaintances, ask what they think about marriage. Chances are, you will get a mixed reaction and, almost certainly, a derisive laugh or two.
Despite the central role marriage still plays in many people’s life, it has gathered a great deal of unhappy baggage. Just mention “marriage” and some people start ranting about its horrible consequences and why no sane person should do it. Not only that, there seem to be as many people wanting to get out of married life as there are those eager to get into it.
Why has marriage has acquired this reputation? How come it’s seen by so many as a mixed blessing or, worse, a blight on an otherwise happy life?
Back 50 years ago and beyond, marriage was regarded with sanctity. Playing a central role marriage served as the foundation for society. But haven’t times changed?
Traditional religious views of marriage have always harkened back to commitment, vows, and responsibilities to God, family, and the community. But now, in the span of one lifetime, marriage has morphed. For a growing number, it has even come to be seen as irrelevant.
Today’s Western version of marriage has, for many, become the peak of an existing live-in relationship: a way of saying, “Well, we’re in love and it’s working. So why don’t we make it legal?” Instead of the ultimate step, marriage has become the optional step. Maybe because people are warier to the difficulties of commitment.
Those with jaundiced views have often been damaged by their experience of marriage, either via a disappointing relationship, or, as children caught in its pain. This explains why some people start ranting about marriage or else remain very tentative. With too much emotional charge invested in their past experience, marriage looks too risky.
And they’re right. We’ve all seen horror relationships where tyrants torment their partners. Marriage lets that kind hide where they can torture behind closed doors and, sadly, the world generally turns a blind eye.
But, thankfully, that’s not the way most marriages go. While the media depict extremes of disaster and dream, most marriages sit in the middle managing quite well. Stylized views of perfectly handsome, slightly greying, cashed up couples living a life of daisies and sophistication sell insurance and timeshares. But reality is never that neat. Real couples that love each other frequently have stuff to work out, leaving the odd daisy to wilt in the process.
But that’s marriage. Real people living out their lives with the best they’ve got. Typically, it’s done bringing kids up, paying off a home, and making ends meet. So, it’s naturally more down to earth than the way it’s portrayed.
And, despite the difficulties, many make their marriage work, and they do it through love, patience, perseverance, and vision. Despite the spits and spats, and trials of getting by, the upsides continue. Marriage can be a source of lifelong satisfaction, and for those who care to love each other enough to see it through, the rewards will last a lifetime.
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